Representative Mary Margaret Oliver of Decatur has introduced in the General Assembly HB 5 regarding use of wireless communication devices while driving. It would amend OCGA 40-6-241 to include the following:
(a) For purposes of this Code section, the term:
(1) ‘Device’ means a cellular, hands-free, or mobile telephone, wireless communication device, personal digital assistant, radio, or citizens band radio; and
(2) ‘Engaged in a call’ means talking or listening via a device and shall include holding such device to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of such device.
(b) A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways, roadways, and streets of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle
(c)(1) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, any driver who shall knowingly:
(A) Operate a motor vehicle which is involved in an accident resulting in death or bodily injury of any person or in property damage; and
(B) Be engaged in a call at the time of the accident shall be guilty of driving while distracted.
(2) The inference that the driver of such motor vehicle was driving while distracted may be rebutted by evidence tending to show that engaging in a call at the time of the accident did not contribute to the accident.
(d) Subsection (c) of this Code section shall not apply to:
(1) Engaging in a call for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital, physician?s office, or health clinic; an ambulance company or corps; a fire department; or a police department; and
(2) Any of the following persons while in the performance of their official duties: a law enforcement officer; a member of a fire department; or the operator of an emergency vehicle designated as such under Code Section 40-8-92.
(e)(1) Any person convicted of a violation of subsection (b) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable as provided in Code Section 40-6-1.
(2) Any person convicted of a violation of subsection (c) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 and assessment of points pursuant to Code Section 40-5-57.
All you folks who check and send email while you drive down the expressway at 80 mph, take note. However, this bill looks overly broad. It creates a rebuttable presumption of distraction if a person just has the radio on listening to NPR (some folks in the legislature would probably support a rule of negligence per se for anyone who listens to NPR), there is no such presumption created when a driver is putting on makeup, eating a sloppy burrito, reading the newspaper, changing clothes, etc. I respect Rep. Oliver, but this proposal needs more work.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.